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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 25

Early Church Fathers  Index     

25. But, say they, how is the flesh by a certain likeness compared unto the Church? What! doth the Church lust against Christ? whereas the same Apostle said, “The Church is subject unto Christ.” 1898 Clearly the Church is subject unto Christ; because the spirit therefore lusteth against the flesh, that on every side the Church may be made subject p. 390 to Christ; but the flesh lusteth against the spirit, because not as yet hath the Church received that peace which was promised perfect. And for this reason the Church is made subject unto Christ for the pledge of salvation, and the flesh lusteth against the spirit from the weakness of sickness. For neither were those other than members of the Church, unto whom he thus spake, “Walk in the spirit, and fulfill not the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed the one to the other; that ye do not what we would.” 1899 These things were assuredly spoken unto the Church, which if it were not made subject unto Christ, the spirit would not in it lust against the flesh through continence. By reason of which they were indeed able not to perfect the lusts of the flesh, but through the flesh lusting against the Spirit they were not able to do the things which they would, that is, not even to have the very lusts of the flesh. Lastly, why should we not confess that in spiritual men the Church is subject unto Christ, but in carnal men yet lusteth against Christ? Did not they lust against Christ unto whom it was said, “Is Christ divided?” 1900 and, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. I have given unto you milk to drink as unto babes in Christ, not meat, for ye were not as yet able; but not even now are ye able: for ye are still carnal. For whereas there is among you emulation, and strife, are ye not carnal?” 1901 Against whom doth emulation and strife lust, but against Christ? For these lusts of the flesh Christ healeth in His own, but loveth in none. Whence the holy Church, so long as it hath such members, is not yet without spot or wrinkle. To these are added those other sins also, for which the daily cry of the whole Church is, “Forgive us our debts:” 1902 and, that we should not think spiritual persons exempt from these, not any one soever of carnal persons, nor any one soever of spiritual persons themselves, but he, who lay on the breast of the Lord, 1903 and whom He loved before others, saith, “If we shall say that we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1904 But in every sin, more in what is greater, less in what is less, there is an act of lust against righteousness. And of Christ it is written: “Who was made unto us by God, Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption.” 1905 In every sin therefore without doubt there is an act of lust against Christ. But when He, Who “healeth all our sicknesses,” 1906 shall have led His Church unto the promised healing of sickness, then in none of its members shall there be any, even the very least spot or wrinkle. Then in no way shall the flesh lust against the spirit, and therefore there shall be no cause why the spirit also lust against the flesh. Then all this conflict shall come to an end, then there shall be the highest concord of both substances; then to such a degree shall no one there be carnal, that even the flesh itself shall be spiritual. What therefore each one living after Christ doth with his flesh, whereas he both lusts against its evil lust, which he restrains, hereafter to be healed, which he holds, not yet healed; and yet nourisheth and cherisheth its good nature, since “no one ever hated his own flesh,” 1907 this also Christ doth with the Church, so far as it is lawful to compare lesser with greater matters. For He both represses it with rebukes, that it burst not being puffed up with impunity; and raises it up with consolations, that it sink not being weighed down with infirmity. Hence is that of the Apostle, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are rebuked of the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.” 1908 And that in the Psalm, “After the multitude of my griefs in my heart, Thy consolations have gladdened my soul.” 1909 We are therefore then to hope for perfect soundness of our flesh without any opposition, when there shall be sure security of the Church of Christ without any fear.



Eph. 5.24Eph. v. 24


Gal. 5:16, 17Gal. 5:16, 17


1 Cor. 1.131 Cor. i. 13


1 Cor. 3:1, 2, 31 Cor. 3:1, 2, 3


Matt. 6.12


John 13.23John xiii. 23


1 John 1.81 John i. 8


1 Cor. 1.301 Cor. i. 30


Ps. 103.3Ps. ciii. 3


Eph. 5.29Eph. v. 29


1 Cor. 11:31, 321 Cor. 11:31, 32


Ps. 94.19Ps. xciv. 19

Next: Section 26

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